Leading A Short-Term Program Abroad
USI Policy Regarding Program Administration
All program directors responsible for USI student or faculty travel abroad must adhere to the USI policy regarding Study Abroad and Faculty-Led Travel programs. These guidelines have been established to ensure the health and safety of all program participants.
Download the program manual
Planning a Safe Trip Abroad (PDF)
The Center for International Programs...
- Maintains the Web site for program participants and manages the submission of required documents.
- Provides information and resources to program directors on issues of health and safety abroad.
- Upon request, provides consultation and review of program proposals.
- Upon request, assists with pre-departure orientation and re-entry programs.
- Provides emergency action protocol that enables program directors abroad to contact USI on a 24-hour basis.
- Coordinates on-campus action of the Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force (in cooperation with the Provost and the Associate Provost for Student Affairs) in case of an emergency abroad.
- Obtain approval for proposed programs from appropriate sources in department, college, and from the Office of Academic Affairs. Attend the orientation program fro program directors sponsored by the offices of the Center for International Programs, Travel Services, and Risk Management.
- When possible, conduct site evaluations for proposed new programs as well as periodic reviews of existing programs with regards to health and safety.
- Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's participation in a study abroad program. Monitor health-related issues through the US Center for Disease Control.
- Monitor the social and political situations of the host countries, at a minimum, through the US Department of State's Travel Advisories and Warnings. In case of a travel warning, consult with the Study Abroad Risk Management team to determine the necessary action.
- Participate in an annual orientation covering safety and liability and other pertinent topics sponsored by the offices of the Center for International Programs, Travel Services, and Risk Management.
- Work closely with the offices of the Registrar, Student Financial Assistance, the Dean of Students, and the Bursar on the program participants' status, registration, tuition, and financial accountability.
- Conduct, or have conducted on their behalf, regular, on-site inspections and reviews of their respective programs to ensure the safety of each international experience and location. Every USI student should have timely on-site access to a USI faculty/staff member or officially designated in-country professional provided by the host institution/organization to assist with academic, logistical, and organizational problems during the program.
- Provide their respective participants with accurate and reliable pre-departure information through orientation meetings and publications, including information on the culture as well as on travel advisories announced by the US Department of State, disclosure of known risks to health and personal safety, academic practices at the host institution, and cultural and legal norms that vary from customs in the United States.
- Require participants to show evidence of appropriate health insurance coverage for the duration of the program. Either provide appropriate health and travel accident insurance to participants, or provide information about how to obtain appropriate coverage.
- Ensure that all participants have supplemental travel insurance which includes repatriation and medical evacuation. Groups traveling in the name of USI are covered by ACE USA International Advantage® Package through the Office of Risk Management. Additional trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended for all student groups.
- Ensure that all participants read and sign a Participant Agreement and Release Form, an Authorization of Medical and Surgical Consultation/Treatment Form, and complete the online forms Participant Data Form and Health Information Form before participation in the program. Forms available at https://www.usi.edu/international/study/ssl/login.asp
- Provide information for participants and their parents/guardians regarding when and where the sponsor's responsibility ends, and the range of aspects of participants' international experiences that are beyond the sponsor's control. In particular, program sponsors and directors generally:
- Cannot guarantee or assure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments;
- Cannot monitor or control all the daily personal decisions, choices and activities of individual participants;
- Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous, or unwise activities;
- Cannot assure that US standards of due process apply in legal proceedings outside of the US or provide or pay for legal representation for participants;
- Cannot assume responsibility for the actions of persons not employed or otherwise engaged by the program sponsor, for events that are not part of the program, or that are beyond the control of the sponsor and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information;
- Cannot assure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.
- Develop contingency plans to follow in case of an emergency while leading a group outside the US. Provide information to participants on whom to contact in case of an emergency both at home and abroad. Follow appropriate USI Emergency Action Protocol when an emergency occurs in the US or abroad.
- When reasonable and appropriate, conduct a post-program debriefing for participants which addresses issues of reverse culture shock and re-entry into American society.
1 Year Prior to Trip
- Begin preliminary research on trip costs, itinerary and course description
- Review USI Policy Regarding Program Administration
6 Months (minimum) Prior to Trip
Complete and submit the following documents to your department chair:
Once the paperwork is processed, the offices of Travel Services (TS) and the Center for International Programs (CIP) will contact the program director with confirmation and information emails.
4 Months Prior to Trip
- Contact CIP to register for the Study Abroad policy and procedures workshop.
- Review Responsibilities and Liability of Program Directors
- Review Insurance for USI Employees Traveling on Business
2 Months Prior to Trip
- Submit final trip itinerary to CIP Office. It will be scanned and filed on the “O” drive.
- Submit list of all participants on trip (including staff) to CIP Office - full names as they appear on passport, Banner ID number or social security numbers and date of birth of each participant
- Complete participant checklist on the Study Abroad Web site
- Hold a pre-departure orientation for program participants (Additional Resources)
1 Month Prior to Trip
- Submit detailed Emergency Action Plan to CIP Office
- Submit on-site emergency information to CIP Office
- Submit Authorization of Medical and Surgical Consultation/Treatment form to IPS
- Verify participants have submitted required documents and completed his/her participant checklist on the Study Abroad Web site
- Submit any additions/deletions/correction to the participant list to CIP Office
- Hold a pre-departure orientation for program participants (Additional Resources)
2 Weeks Prior to Trip
- Obtain copies of important documents from CIP Office
- Pick up Executive Assistance card and passport stickers through ACE USA from CIP Office
- Review USI Emergency Action Protocol
1 Week Prior to Trip
Responsible Study Abroad: Good Practices for Health and Safety
NAFSA: Association of International Educators (Rev 11/2002)
Because the health and safety of study abroad participants are primary concerns, these statements of good practice have been developed to provide guidance to institutions, participants (including faculty and staff), and parents/guardians/families. These statements are intended to be aspirational in nature. They address issues that merit attention and thoughtful consideration by everyone involved with study abroad. They are intentionally general; they are not intended to account for all the many variations in study abroad programs and actual health, safety and security cases that will inevitably occur. In dealing with any specific situation, those responsible must also rely upon their collective experience and judgment while considering their specific circumstances.
The term "sponsors" refers to all the entities that together develop, offer, and administer study abroad programs. Sponsors include sending institutions, host institutions, program administrators, and placement organizations. To the extent reasonably possible, program sponsors should consider how these statements of good practice may apply. At the same time, it must be noted that the structure of study abroad programs varies widely. Study abroad is usually a cooperative venture that can involve multiple sponsors. Because the role of an organization in a study abroad program may vary considerably from case to case, it is not possible to specify a division of efforts that will be applicable to all cases. Each entity should apply these statements in ways consistent with its respective role.
In general, practices that relate to obtaining health, safety and security information apply to all parties consistent with their role and involvement in the study abroad program. Much of the basic information is readily available and can be conveyed to participants by distributing it and/or by referring them to, or utilizing materials from, recognized central sources. Statements of good practice that refer to the provision of information and the preparation of participants are intended for parties that advise, refer, nominate, admit, enroll, or place students. Statements of good practice that suggest operating procedures on site apply to entities that are directly involved in the operation of the overseas program.
It is understood that program sponsors that rely heavily on the collaboration of overseas institutions may exercise less direct control over specific program components. In such cases, sponsors are urged to work with their overseas partners to develop plans and procedures for implementing good practices.
The use of letters is provided for ease of reference only and does not imply priority.
Program sponsors should:
- Conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions for their programs, and develop and maintain emergency preparedness processes and a crisis response plan.
- Provide health and safety information for prospective participants so that they and their parents/guardians/families can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation and behavior while on the program.
- Provide information concerning aspects of home campus services and conditions that cannot be replicated at overseas locations.
- Provide orientation to participants prior to the program and as needed on site, which includes information on safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country. In addition to dealing with health and safety issues, the orientation should address potential health and safety risks, and appropriate emergency response measures.
- Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's participation in a study abroad program.
- Determining criteria for an individual's removal from an overseas program taking into account participant behavior, health, and safety factors.
- Require that participants be insured. Either provide health and travel accident (emergency evacuation, repatriation) insurance to participants, or provide information about how to obtain such coverage.
- Conduct inquiries regarding the potential health, safety and security risks of the local environment of the program, including program-sponsored accommodation, events, excursions and other activities, prior to the program. Monitor possible changes in country conditions. Provide information about changes and advise participants and their parents/guardians/families as needed.
- Hire vendors and contractors (e.g. travel and tour agents) that have provided reputable services in the country in which the program takes place. Advise such vendors and contractors of the program sponsor's expectations with respect to their role in the health and safety of participants.
- Conduct appropriate inquiry regarding available medical and professional services. Provide information about these services for participants and their parents/guardians/families, and help participants obtain the services they may need.
- Develop and provide health and safety training for program directors and staff, including guidelines with respect to intervention and referral that take into account the nature and location of the study abroad program.
- Develop codes of conduct for their programs; communicate codes of conduct and the consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when aware that participants are in violation.
- In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors and others who need to know.
- In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may impact on the safety of the individual or the group.
- Provide information for participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when and where the sponsor's responsibility ends and the range of aspects of participants' overseas experiences that are beyond the sponsor's control.
In particular, program sponsors generally:
- Cannot guarantee or assure the safety and/or security of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments.
- Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of participants.
- Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities.
- Cannot assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants.
- Cannot assume responsibility for actions or for events that are not part of the program, nor for those that are beyond the control of the sponsor and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
- Cannot assure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.
In study abroad, as in other settings, participants can have a major impact on their own health and safety through the decisions they make before and during their program and by their day-to-day choices and behaviors.
- Assume responsibility for all the elements necessary for their personal preparation for the program and participate fully in orientations.
- Read and carefully consider all materials issued by the sponsor that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country(ies).
- Conduct their own research on the country(ies) they plan to visit with particular emphasis on health and safety concerns, as well as the social, cultural, and political situations.
- Consider their physical and mental health, and other personal circumstances when applying for or accepting a place in a program, and make available to the sponsor accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data that is necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad experience.
- Obtain and maintain appropriate insurance coverage and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.
- Inform parents/guardians/families and any others who may need to know about their participation in the study abroad program, provide them with emergency contact information, and keep them informed of their whereabouts and activities.
- Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of conduct, and emergency procedures of the program.
- Be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the program staff or other appropriate individuals before and/or during the program.
- Accept responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
- Obey host-country laws.
- Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.
- Avoid illegal drugs and excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
- Follow the program policies for keeping program staff informed of their whereabouts and well being.
- Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining emergency health and legal system services in the host country.
In study abroad, as in other settings, parents, guardians, and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas.
- Be informed about and involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.
- Obtain and carefully evaluate participant program materials, as well as related health, safety and security information.
- Discuss with the participant any of his/her travel plans and activities that may be independent of the study abroad program.
- Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.
- Be responsive to requests from the program sponsor for information regarding the participant.
- Keep in touch with the participant.
- Be aware that the participant rather than the program may most appropriately provide some information.
USI employees, including “volunteer workers” are covered by the International Advantage Commercial Insurance Policy with ACE American Insurance Company by the Employers Responsibility Coverages with Executive Assistance. It includes coverage under the commercial general liability coverage form with:
- $1 million limits/$2 million annual aggregate limits of liability, voluntary compensation coverage providing Indiana limits for workers compensation coverage
- $1 million bodily injury to employees for accident or endemic illness
- $1 million policy limit for medical evacuation/repatriation.
Employees also have AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment) with Medical Coverage with:
- $100,000 principal sum for AD&D
- $10,000 for coverage B—accident & sickness medical expense
This is 24 hour business travel protection. Their Executive Assistance includes medical assistance with $1 million policy limit, personal assistance, travel assistance, and security assistance.
USI students, chaperons, and other participants on a USI tour, trip, or study program are covered by the AD&D and Medical coverage for Educational Services, including travel during any bona fide trip plus up to 14 days of sojourn:
- $25,000 principal sum for AD&D (coverage A)
- $25,000 principal sum for coverage B (accident & sickness medical expense)
The Executive Assistance Services has a limit of $500,000 up to an annual aggregate of $1 million for medical assistance services. Executive Assistance Services also includes personal assistance, travel assistance, and security assistance. Medical Assistance services include emergency medical evacuation, repatriation and repatriation of mortal remains. (This coverage has been greatly enhanced since 2008).
Insurance cards can be printed from the USI Risk Management web site. The University will also provide a sticker with emergency contact phone numbers which can be placed on page 5 of the traveler’s passport. Program directors should contact the Center for International Programs or Risk Management prior to departure.
For more information click on http://www.europassistance-usa.com/customers/ace/ and then click on the more link after “ACE International Advantage Package Policies. The website to access the e-services is http://www.aceExecutiveAssistance.com (the USI ID is acepremier and our password of 7kilt6).
USI Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force
- Associate Provost for Student Affairs
- Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications
- Assistant Provost, Center for International Programs
- Travel Manager, Travel Services
- Director, Risk Management and Safety
- Director, Public Safety
- Dean of Students
Responsibilities of the Risk Management Task Force
- Address immediate action necessary to maintain security and health of program participants, faculty and staff.
- Address issues of health, safety, academic concerns, financial aid, public relations and legal liability.
- Identify additional appropriate steps to take abroad (e.g., addressing student reactions, creating written action plan, sending USI staff or faculty to program site, etc.).
- Develop and help with an evacuation plan should one become necessary.
- Designate an individual to assume responsibility for handling the situation at home campus and program site.
- Develop a communication document to be utilized by all personnel involved.
- Prepare a list of persons to be alerted.
- Develop a daily communication plan.
- Assess impact of the event once ended and document all actions taken in a written report.
Definition of an Emergency
- Death of a participant or faculty member
- Serious injury or illness that can be defined as one requiring hospitalization, or one that makes it impossible for the participant or faculty member to continue the program
- Emotional or psychological condition requiring removal from the situation or professional attention
- Being the victim of a serious crime (assault, rape, etc.)
- Being accused of committing a crime
- A situation--either in the US or at a program site--arises that causes serious concern, i.e., a political uprising or a natural disaster, an act of war, or other event causing or threatening harm to program participants or faculty member
- Sudden evacuation of a participant or faculty member in response to a stateside emergency
- Travel Warning issued by the US State Department specific to a country, region, or world wide
Definition of a Perceived Emergency
Perceived emergency results from events that are not immediately threatening to the health or safety of program participants, faculty or staff, but which may be viewed as such by family and friends at home, or by the media. In many instances, a perceived emergency must be treated as a real emergency.
Decision Making in Times of Crisis
The University will be prepared for two alternatives: continuing the program at an alternative site or closing the program. In deciding whether to move or close a program and evacuate the participants, the physical safety of the participants must be the paramount issue. The decision to terminate a program or evacuate the participants will be made by the Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force, in consultation with the program director, who should have the best understanding of the local conditions.
In the event of a crisis at or near the location of the specific program site location, the program director should be prepared to report on the following:
- The safety of the students
- The geographic proximity of the program to the crisis
- The impact of the crisis on the quality of life (availability of food, water, medical supplies, the protection of law and order)
- The target of the unrest, if the crisis is political
- The intensity of military presence in the area of the program
- The continuance of classes or field experiences at local universities
The program director should contact the nearest US Consulate to discuss the need for evacuation and any measures that the US is taking to evacuate its citizens. University staff will also contact other institutions with programs in that vicinity to discuss what actions they are taking. The Provost and Associate Provost for Student Affairs will convene the Risk Management Task Force to decide the best course of action and make a decision about evacuation.
After the students have been evacuated to safety, the University will make academic and financial arrangements appropriate to the particular program at the time of its termination. Once a decision has been made to evacuate students, the University cannot be responsible for the safety of any student or staff member who refused to comply with the evacuation procedures arranged by the University.
Communicating in Case of an Emergency Abroad
The Vice President for Government and University Relations, via the director of News and Information Services, in consultation with the Risk Management Task Force, will coordinate all information released externally by the University associated with the incident and respond to all requests for information by media personnel. Faculty directors and USI study abroad staff should not seek contact with the press, since difficulties may arise when more than one source releases information to the media.
The Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) will contact the family of all students involved, officials, and on-site coordinators.
Notification of Next of Kin in Case of Death Abroad
In the event of death, it is the responsibility of the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) to see that next of kin are appropriately and promptly notified. The appropriate embassy officials will take charge in the event of the death of a US citizen abroad. In most cases, the next of kin are contacted directly by the representatives of the US State Department or local authorities.
Recommended Course of Action in Case of an Emergency
Immediate Responsibilities of On-Site Program Director
- Attend to the immediate needs of participant or faculty member involved.
- Remove individual(s) from danger.
- Contact, as appropriate, local medical emergency officials, law enforcement officers, the US Embassy or Consulate, on-site health and/or counseling provider to begin local action necessary to handle and resolve the situation.
- Contact the USI Department of Security (812-465-1845) Security will notify the Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Assistant Provost for International Programs, Dean of Students and other USI units, as appropriate.
Immediate Responsibilities of USI Office of Public Safety
Upon receiving a call from on-site faculty director concerning a serious injury, death or other emergency, the Office of Security will:
- Begin a log of all calls and activities pertaining to the incident.
- Collect the following information from the on-site personnel:
- Name, identity, and location of caller;
- Nature and brief description of emergency;
- Location of emergency and its proximity to program participants, if not directly affected;
- Identity of program participants involved, if applicable;
- Contact information (phone & fax number, e-mail address) where caller can be reached; and
- Any information previously released to the media.
- Verify calls have been placed to emergency response services, and will be placed to US Embassy or Consulate if situation warrants;
- Instruct caller to call again after emergency response team or law enforcement have arrived, if applicable;
- Contact Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Dean of Students and Assistant Provost for International Programs.
Immediate Responsibilities of USI Center for International Programs
- Notify Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, and the Dean of Students of any statements already made to media. Refer press inquiries to Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications.
- Once important facts have been collected, the Center for International Programs will notify members of the Risk Management Task Force. Whenever possible, faculty with specialization in the affected region may also be included.
- Communicate with on-site director or coordinator, on-campus constituencies, parents, and US Health Insurance Provider, etc. throughout emergency.
- Contact and consult with other key USI administrators, such as the appropriate dean(s).
- Contact the USI Office of Risk Management and Safety for notification to the insurance broker and/or carrier within 48 hours of the incident.
- In event of emergency other than illness or isolated accident, call the US Department of State Citizen's Emergency Center at 202/647-5225 for suggestions or assistance. Call US offices of other institutions with students in the program location to compare information and to develop a common plan of action.
- Continue coordination throughout emergency and communicate with the parent/guardian throughout the emergency as appropriate.
Follow-up Procedures to be Coordinated by USI Center for International Programs
- Ensure written accounts of incident are obtained as soon as possible from all witnesses and affected students, faculty and staff.
- Prepare detailed factual report, including preliminary recommendations without judgments, analysis, or conclusions.
- Submit report to Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force.
- Convene follow-up meeting of Task Force to discuss distribution and dissemination of report and the need, if any, for further in-house or external review or investigation.
- Communicate any pertinent information to other USI programs, as appropriate.
- Assess effectiveness of these procedures and revise as appropriate.
Follow-up Procedures for Program Director
- Reassess and adjust planned activities for the program as necessary. Attempt to avoid subjecting students and staff to additional stress. Plan for ways to proceed. The program should be terminated only as a last resort.
- Stay in close communication with the Center for International Programs for instructions and/or input from Risk Management Task Force, and inform on-campus program staff of whereabouts and activities of the group.
- Assess physical and emotional needs of students and staff.
- Inform program sponsor if additional staff are needed on-site to carry out necessary arrangements, or to provide counseling to students.
- Ensure all affected local and US authorities are consulted and kept informed.
- In the event of fatality, wait for legal authority (usually local) before moving the body. Make sure photographs are taken before body is removed. Photographs and preservation of evidence may be important in other situations involving criminal activity also.
- Document ALL activities.
- Collect written statements from students, faculty and staff as soon as possible following incident.
The program director should:
- Conduct detailed pre-departure orientation program for all participants
- Register with the US Embassy in the host country and provide a copy of (1) the On-Site Emergency Contact Information Form, (2) complete travel itinerary, and (3) a complete list of all participants and staff.
- Create an emergency card for each participant and staff member in the host country language that indicates specific contact information and phone numbers in case of an emergency (program director, US Embassy, USI, Access America)
- Complete detailed on-site orientation regarding all aspects of program that includes cultural and appropriate and inappropriate cultural and social behavior and emergency procedures.
- Complete information on assembly points, who should go where and when in case of an emergency.
- Keep list of contacts where each participant is housed and for each excursion, including independent travel.
- Develop and maintain list of other agencies, missionaries, government offices, private citizens who could be a resource during an emergency (including names, addresses, and telephone numbers).
- Update program Emergency Action Plan while on site.
Documents Required of All Participants
- Access the participant checklist. The login is the Banner ID number (not social security number), and the password is "world." If the participant is not a USI student or faculty member, a login ID will be provided by the Center for International Programs. Complete the following online forms listed on the checklist:
- Personal Data Form
- Health Information Form Self-Disclosure
- Participant Agreement and Release Form (PDF)
- Authorization of Medical or Surgical Consultation/Treatment (word document) - signed and notarized (Linda Lefler in the CIP Office is a notary public.)
- Proof of health insurance coverage effective for the host country or countries. Property and personal liability coverage is also highly recommended. For more information regarding health issues for travelers, including information on insurance providers, please consult the US Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_4971.html.
- Two copies of passport photo page with passport number and expiration date (one copy to be filed with Travel Services, one copy for program director). Information on how to apply for a passport is available from the CIP Office or from the US Department of State http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
- Proof of required inoculations, if applicable (see the Center for Disease Control http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/).